Spending time with children is the key to making them smarter, new research concludes.
Children whose parents spend more quality time with them do better in school.
While genetics plays its part, being there for a child has a more powerful effect.
Being present for the child is even more important than economic status, the study also suggested.
Professor Bruce Weinberg, study co-author, said:
“In the ongoing debate over what helps children succeed academically, we show that genetics is not the only major factor.
It is also about the time that parents spend with their children.”
The conclusions come from research involving over almost a million children in Israel.
Over 22,000 had lost a parent before the age of 18 and the parents of 77,000 had divorced.
They compared this with how well the children had done on a college entry test.
The researchers wanted to see what effect losing a parent had on their test results.
The results showed that the educational level of a parent who died became less important for the child’s academic success.
In other words, having smart parents is not what matters most — it’s how they bring you up.
Also, children who lost their mothers tended to do worse academically.
Professor Weinberg explained:
“The loss of a mother — who tends to spend more time than the father with her children — had a bigger effect than loss of a father in our study.”
Professor Weinberg said:
“We found similar results in those children who experienced parental death and parental divorce.
That provides strong evidence that our results are more general than just for children who suffered a parental death.
Other studies show that highly educated parents tend to spend more time with their children.
Our results may suggest one reason why they do: It has a strong impact on academic success.”
The study is to be published in the Journal of Labor Economics (Gould et al., 2019).